Jamie Heaslip - The beating heart, soul and ego of Leinster Rugby 3 years ago

Jamie Heaslip - The beating heart, soul and ego of Leinster Rugby

If Johnny Sexton is the brains of the Leinster operation, you get the sense that Jamie Heaslip is the beating heart and soul. The ego too.

When this man is primed, Leinster tend to do well.

On Friday night, Heaslip was primed. He made the big carries, called ball on himself, kept Ulster at bay around the fringes and showed up in attack, again and again.

There was his second-half try too - left one-on-one with poor Paddy Jackson after Ben Te'o's offload did most of the damage. Jackson was crushed and Ulster were winded.

Post-match, in Leinster's press room, Heaslip was purring. Shower-fresh, sleeves rolled up, 40% of his buttons buttoned, he radiated victory.

Asked about the 30-6 loss to the same opponents, three weeks ago, in Belfast, he told us what told us then. The teams were closer than the scoreline dared suggest. "They scored two tries when we were down to 14, as you'd expect them to," he remarked.

Leinster did scoreboard damage in the opening 15 minutes of each half but they won the game because they were relentless for the full 80. The Leinster captain - speaking for himself - put it down to re-watching a Tom Hardy movie about two brothers that take up Mixed Martial Arts.

"Have you ever seen that movie Warrior? And they say 'Move or Die'. I was watching that this morning and that hit home.

"It's semi-final rugby. Gotta keep passing; keep that tempo up. You will not beat a side like Ulster if you do not bring tempo to the game. They are that good."

Move or Die. Words of wisdom from a character that also declared, 'You don't knock him out, you don't have a home.'

Frank Campana 1

There had been a lot of talk about bite and nastiness in Leinster training sessions. When lads as going kamikaze on each other - trying to win jerseys and prove points - it would be an odd week when one lad wasn't boxing the mush off another. Rugby is food chain stuff.

If Leinster weren't taking lumps off each other, out at U.C.D, most weeks, you'd be worried. For Heaslip, it was just another week as a rugby player:

"You try and stay in the middle. You never get too carried away by losses and you never get too carried away by wins."

Johnny Sexton's comments - as part of a personal press commitment - that everyone at Leinster, from the chief executive to the academy boys needed an attitude adjustment must have rankled. We asked Heaslip if anyone in the squad confronted the outhalf about talking out of school. He smiled... then said:

"[If I did] I'm not going to tell you guys."

Everything else was standard Heaslip - trust ourselves, trust the process, trust our structures.

He did reveal that what remained of Saturday night, and a good chunk of Sunday morning, would not be spent sleeping. He was too wired.

He did need to grab some sleep as he was off to a communion in 'the Connacht side' of Athlone for his God-son.

"I have to present, suit and all," he remarked, "but what's probably more important is that he wants his cash."

Heaslip would respect the front.

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